The story behind the photo: ‘Intricate’ by Tania Malkin

By AG STAFF 11 September 2023
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
This forms part of a series of Q&As with winning photographers from this year’s Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year awards.

Tania Malkin was crowned the winner of the Landscape category in the 2023 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year (AGNPOTY) competition.

The winning image, titled Intricate, is an aerial photograph of a delta on the flood plains of the Northern Territory’s Joseph Bonaparte Gulf.

Can you tell us the back story of this photo? 

The image was taken from a R44 helicopter, roughly 2500 feet. It illustrates a landscape within the landscape. To me it’s a perfect vista, clouds, trees and pathways created by water and intermittent creeks. 

What is your connection to the subject matter? 

I love aerial photography and the way it illustrates perfectly the delicate relationship between water and life.

Where is it taken, and what led you to this site? 

The image was taken over the flood plains / marsh lands on a coastal area of the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf. Through various satellite GIS applications I identify areas of interest to photograph. This can be off the coast or onshore, remnant ancient creek beds, river beds, tidal and seasonal creek areas. 

Were you unexpectedly there or had you planned to cover this moment? 

I planned to be in this area, however you can never plan for exactly what will be revealed from the air. Even with perfect planning it’s different every time you fly. 

Photographer Tania Malkin. Image credit: supplied by Tania Malkin

What are the technical challenges of photographing this kind of scene?

The light changes so quickly in the north of Australia, and there is a delicate balance between good camera settings and bad ones, constantly checking my exposure might be a simple task but it is one that easy to forget about when you are caught in the moment capturing such a beautiful scene. Communicating with the pilot, using manual focus and settings is a juggling act. 

How did you prepare to take this image? 

I plan my flights 6-12 months in advance. This particular flight was planned about 7 months in advance. 

Did you have special equipment? 

DSLR and a prime lens.

Have you covered this topic/subject before?

I love capturing the intermittent creek systems and the alluvial patterns they make, every flight brings something different, even if it’s over the same area, the season (weather / rain ( good wet season or bad wet season), the tides, the light conditions make it so different. 

Why is this form of photography important to you?

The landscape is so different from the air, an area that is not necessarily photogenic from the ground can be an artistic masterpiece created by nature from the sky. 

Any additional thoughts?

I am honoured to have been a finalist and humbled to be announced a category winner. 

Related: Winners: 2023 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year